BACK TO RELIGIOUS SHORT STORIES PAGE
The Parable Of
THE LOST COIN
“No, Ma’am, there’s no report of your daughter having been admitted”, the operator said. Helen hung up the phone with trembling hands. That was the last hospital in the phone book. There was only one thing left to do. She called the police.
“What is the nature of the emergency?” the officer asked.
“It’s my daughter, Karen”, Helen said. “Actually, she’s my foster-child. She’s missing; she didn’t come home from school today with my other children.”
“How many other children do you have?”, the officer asked.
“We have three of our own, and six foster children that we’ve adopted”, Helen said. “All of them have learning disabilities.”
“How old is Karen?” the officer asked.
“Sixteen”, replied Helen. She gave him a physical description of her.
“Where is your husband?”
“He’s out of town on business. I called him to come home. He’ll be here in the morning.”
“How about her Birth Parents?”
“We’re in the process of adopting her“, Helen said. “We discussed it as a family with her a few months ago. We know she should be with us. She’s happy about it”, she added. The next thing the officer said surprised her.
“Has she ever run away before?” he asked.
“No!” said Helen. “She’s very well behaved.”
“Ma’am, it’s important that you be honest with me.”
“I am”, Helen insisted. “I called her school. She went to all her classes today, and her friends saw her walking home, but she never arrived here. Can you send our a search party?”
“We can’t log her as a missing person until after twenty-four hours”, the officer said. “Until then, we assume she’s a runaway.”
“You don’t understand”, said Helen. “She’s autistic.”
“Does she usually walk home from school every day?” the officer asked.
“Yes…” said Helen
“We’ll contact Social Services right away”, said the officer. “She might not be used to a new, large family. She might be trying to contact her birth parents. ”
“She’s been with us for a year”, Helen implored. “I assure you she has not run away.” Helen continued to try to persuade him, to no avail. She hung up the phone, feeling even more frustrated. “We’ll organize our own search party”, she decided. She grabbed her address book and went back to the phone.
Within an hour, friends and neighbors filled her home. Lucy, her close friend, was always organizing various local events, so she naturally fell into the role of leading the search party. She made sure that everyone had flashlights and maps of the area, divided everyone into groups and gave each an assignment.
By sunset, the search party was deployed. There were many miles of wilderness to the west of their neighborhood; this was where they focused their efforts. Helen stayed home with the remaining children, and used her friend’s cellular phone to continue calling friends and relatives.
“Where can she be?” Helen said aloud to herself. Lucy was thinking the same thing.
“You look shiny”, said Karen.
“You can see that?” said the angel.
“It’s hard to look at you”, Karen said.
“You’re pretty shiny yourself”, replied the angel.
“Am I?” asked Karen. “I don’t feel shiny.”
“Take my word for it”, said the angel. “You’re shiny.”
“What does that mean?” asked Karen.
“It’s a good thing”, said the angel. “Karen, you’ve got to stop going exploring so far away from your
neighborhood. I know your new family is big, and that you like to go off on your own sometimes, but you must take someone with you from now on.”
“Are you going to get me out of here?” asked Karen.
“Not exactly”, said the angel, “but I’m going to keep you company.”
The search for Karen went without a lead all night long. By sun-up, the groups of volunteers began to thin out from fatigue. Lucy began to re-arrange the volunteers in shifts, so the searching would continue with less weariness. She and Helen were the only two without rest.
“We’d better find her soon”, said Helen.
“We will”, Lucy said with conviction.
“I hope so”, said Helen. “She must be so scared.”
“Am I going to die?” asked Karen
“I won’t let that happen to you”, said the angel. “I don’t want you to be frightened.”
“I’m not scared”, said Karen. “Just tired.”
“Good”, said the angel with a gentle smile. Try to get some sleep. “I’ll watch over you,”
“Alright”, Karen said with a yawn.
Karen was still asleep when they found her. She had fallen into a shallow pit in an overgrown field about a mile away from her home. The searchers might have missed it, but for a shaft of light emanating from the pit. It pierced the shadows concealing it, and it led them right to her. When they brushed aside the shrubbery around it, they found her lying motionless at the bottom, her face illuminated by an unearthly glow.
“Karen?” one of the rescuers called. The light suddenly vanished, and Karen opened her eyes.
“What took you so long?” she said.
Those who found her didn’t know whether or laugh or to cry.
THE LOST COIN (Luke 15: 8-10)
“What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”